Author: Shelby Jancyzk

Pros and Cons of Telecommuting

Pros and Cons of Telecommuting

Telecommuting is the term for working from a remote location, usually an employee’s residence. Workers are connected to employers and company servers via the internet and are able to communicate regularly in real time using email, instant messaging, webcams and conference calls. Telecommuting can range from working exclusively from a home office to only working at home a few hours every week.

Pro and Cons

Telecommuting brings advantages and disadvantages to the way companies do business.

 

Here’s a look at some of the advantages:

Increased productivity. While it’s easy to imagine workers shirking their duties at home more readily than in the office, numerous studies show that workers who telecommute are 15 to 55 percent more productive. Two-thirds of employers report increased productivity among their telecommuters.

  • Additionally, AT&T reports that employees work an extra five hours per week when telecommuting versus when they are at the office, and Sun Microsystems’ data shows that employees spend 60 percent of the time they would have used commuting working for the company.

Fewer costs. Over half of all employers reported cost savings as a significant benefit to telecommuting. By allowing workers to telecommute, companies reported big savings on real estate, absenteeism and relocation costs. In many areas there are also grants and other financial incentives for companies that offer telecommuting.

Increased employer flexibility. Telecommuting gives employers the option to hire from across the country without worrying about relocating workers to a central location. Employers can also more readily hire part-time, semi-retired, disabled or homebound workers.

Healthier employees. Telecommuting relieves the stress caused by commuting and other issues related to the workplace or being away from home. Telecommuters eat healthier and exercise more than their office-bound counterparts, and are less likely to get sick from contagious germs.

 

Potential disadvantages of telecommuting:

Disengagement. Many employers say that telecommuting interferes negatively with the relationship between workers and management, and can foster jealousy and rivalries between telecommuters and non-telecommuters.  Staying connected and supervising employees who work from home can also be a challenge for managers.

Lack of collaboration. Innovation can be stifled when workers are not physically interacting with each other. This is the main reason cited by Mayer for the discontinuation of Yahoo’s telecommuting policy.

Technology and security concerns. Not all employees are tech-savvy, and there can be problems trying to remotely access an office network or set up remote meetings. Sensitive company information carries the potential for greater risk of being compromised through unsecure home computers. Additionally, 59 percent of telecommuters do not use their company’s data backup system, risking the loss of hard work and valuable information.

 

In Summary

Telecommuting is not the right fit for every company, but it has a decades-old record of being positive for many organizations. As the business world becomes more ensconced online than ever before, and a younger, more internet-connected generation moves up the ranks of the workforce, telecommuting may become far more common than it is today. 

Before your company decides to embrace telecommuting, you should carefully weigh the risks and benefits of instituting a telecommuting policy to ensure it will be an asset to your organization. 

Preventing Employee Burnout

Employee burnout

Employee burnoutThe World Health Organization (WHO) now considers burnout to be a syndrome. In previous editions of the WHO’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), burnout wasn’t considered a serious condition, and its only listed symptom was exhaustion. 


The WHO’s decision to upgrade burnout to a syndrome and provide a detailed set of symptoms communicates its serious stance on the dangers of burnout. Additionally, the WHO clarified in a public statement that burnout is an “occupational phenomenon” resulting “from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” 

What is Burnout?

According to the WHO’s ICD-11, doctors can diagnose an employee with burnout if they exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Exhaustion or energy depletion
  • Decreased engagement at work, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
  • Reduced productivity or efficacy

For some employees, the negative effects of burnout extend beyond their work life and into their home and social life. Moreover, burnout can increase an employee’s risk for getting sick or developing a chronic condition. 

  

How to Prevent Burnout at Your Organization

Since burnout is the result of prolonged and chronic workplace stress, it’s important to know how to recognize the signs of workplace stress.

 While it may not be possible to eliminate job stress altogether for your employees, you can help them learn how to manage it effectively. Common job stressors include a heavy workload, intense pressure to perform at high levels, job insecurity, long work hours, excessive travel, office politics and conflicts with co-workers.

You can implement various activities to help reduce employee stress, which can improve health and morale—and productivity.

    • Make sure that workloads are appropriate.
    • Have managers meet regularly with employees to facilitate communication.
    • Address negative and illegal actions in the workplace immediately. Do not tolerate bullying, discrimination or any other similar behaviors.
    • Recognize and celebrate employees’ successes. This contributes to morale and decreases stress levels.
    • Encourage a positive work-life balance. 
    • Promote exercise at your organization, as it’s a proven stress reliever.
    • Encourage employees to utilize their paid time off. 
    • Incorporate company-sponsored activities to give employees a reason to leave their desks and take a break.
  • Train managers on how to keep employees engaged and motivated at work, and how to address burnout with employees. 

 

For More Information

Burnout is a serious syndrome that may be affecting your employees. As such, it’s important that you recognize the signs of burnout and take steps to prevent it at your workplace. 


For more information on stress reduction resources for employees, contact TripleTrack HR Partners today.

Recruiting for Soft Skills

Businesswoman with soft skills

Businesswoman with soft skills

There’s a lot more that goes into finding the right candidate for your company’s opening than just a block of text. That’s why the interview process exists and why, as an HR professional, learning how to recognize soft skills is so important.

What Are Soft Skills?

The term “soft skills” refers to the attributes that an applicant can bring to your company that might not show up on a resume, such as:

  • Communication 
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Conflict resolution
  • Creativity
  • Critical thinking
  • Dependability
  • Flexibility
  • Problem-solving
  • Leadership
  • Accountability

These soft skills can demonstrate a candidate’s ability to be a positive presence in the workplace outside of, or alongside, their official job description. For example, communication, conflict resolution and problem-solving are integral to helping your workplace function smoothly. Critical thinking and creativity are important for contributing new ideas and solutions that other employees might not think of.

But while all of these soft skills are great to have in your employees, you won’t be the only one looking for those candidates. 

Candidates in High Demand

According to LinkedIn’s 2019 Global Talent Trends report, 92% of talent professionals reported that soft skills are equally, or even more important, than hard skills.

A report from the International Association of Administrative Professionals, OfficeTeam and HR.com noted that 67% of HR managers said that they would hire an applicant with strong soft skills even if they were lacking in technical skills. Meanwhile, only 9% of those same responders said that they would extend an offer to a candidate with strong technical skills but weak soft skills.

Many business schools, including Harvard, Yale and Columbia, are now offering courses that focus specifically on soft skills.

Finding the Skills Your Company Needs

Most job postings will include language fishing for certain soft skills, but similarly, most applicants will claim to have them. Request that candidates include specific examples of the skills that you’re seeking in their cover letters and resumes. You can gain some indications based on how they respond. For example, do they give themselves all the credit, or do they cite things like teamwork?

Some companies use online services in order to help filter out candidates before beginning the interview process. Applicants are required to go through an online assessment using software programmed to analyze, among other things, soft skills.

Regardless of the steps you and your company might choose to take, it’s easiest to assess these kinds of qualifications in person. The interview process is when it becomes more apparent which candidates have the soft skills you’re looking for, but there are still steps that your company should take in order to assess interviewees.

  • Structure interviews—Use standard questions for all candidates interviewing for a position in order to eliminate unconscious bias.
  • Dig deeper—Many applicants arrive at interviews with rehearsed answers, so try to ask situational questions that apply to real-world scenarios.
  • Test problem-solving—Ask candidates for a plan for a project they might undertake at your company, and then have them adjust it based on certain constraints, such as a budget cut.
  • Avoid similarity bias—You might be naturally drawn to a candidate who is similar to you and therefore think they have certain soft skills. Ask for feedback from other members of your team who have met the candidate to get their opinions.
  • Ask the hard questions—Have a candidate tell you about a time that they have had to admit a fault or communicate bad news at work. Their responses to difficult questions about stressful times can provide insight into their soft skills. 

Of course, not every soft skill is of equal importance for every position. For example, communication skills might be more important for a client-facing position, while problem solving and conflict resolution are necessary for those in management.

For more information and help finding the right candidates for your company, contact TripleTrack HR Partners today.